Since Russia's full-scale military invasion began in February, Estonia has provided almost €300 million in military aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Estonian voluntary organizations had already started collecting donations for Ukraine as early as 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea.
The NGO "Support Ukraine" ("Toeta Ukrainat") for instance, has been delivering aid to Ukraine since 2015. According to Ants Erm, who is a member of the NGO's membership board, what is most needed now are financial donations, which will be used to help by winter equipment, bulletproof vests, generators and vehicles.
Up to now, "Support Ukraine" has delivered ten cars to Ukraine, including, most recently a bus, which was adapted for use as an ambulance. "We received €6,800 in targeted donations and with that we bought a pretty decent Renault Trafic, which was ambulance-ready," explained Erm
"An ambulance frame was also donated for it, which usually sells for €6,000," said Erm, who believes even more money can be raised for the cause if it is well-publicized.
In addition to the nearly €300 million in military aid provided by the Estonian state, Ukraine has also received US Javelin anti-tank missiles, Swedish anti-tank guns, 122-millimeter howitzers, M-14 automatic rifles as well as a range of other supplies. Germany has also financed two mobile field hospitals in Ukraine.
"The importance of (providing) this assistance is primarily to curb Russia's ambitions in our region, as well as to encourage the big countries to do the same," said Ministry of Defense Secretary General Kusti Salm.
"An important point is, that a large proportion of these weapons have already reached the end of their shelf lives," explained Salm, adding that others would also expire in the next couple of years.
"We get the majority of this money back from our allies in the European Union as well as elsewhere," he said. "We have already received "peace funding" (from the European Peace Facility – ed.) of around €150 million and, for example, the rebuilding of field hospitals for Estonia is financed by Germany," Salm said.
Donors have also given SUVs and ambulances to send to Ukraine.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Transport, is sending 27 regular buses to Ukraine. The Rescue Board has also sent equipment to Ukraine to aid in the disposal of explosives.
Editor: Michael Cole